Plenty of blogs and articles address marriage: why we save sex for it, what to expect in it and how not to idolize it. But not every young woman comes into adulthood with a positive outlook on marriage. There are many who come from broken homes and aren’t sure marriage holds much hope or promise. Some wonder what marriage is worth when it so often ends in divorce and heartbreak.
These sentiments are real and the question is valid: If 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, as the media tells us, why should we marry at all? And as Christians, is divorce God’s intention?
God does not like divorce. In fact, God hates it (Malachi 2:16). However, because of sin in the world, God permits divorce under certain circumstances (Matthew 19). While God’s heart is broken by divorce, God doesn’t hate those affected by it. He comforts the brokenhearted and is present with those who are suffering from broken homes and relationships.
Jesus Himself was born into a family most likely burdened with rumor and gossip. Though Mary and Joseph were not divorced, Joseph nearly divorced Mary when he first found out she was pregnant, believing she’d had an affair. But even after Joseph was told by God to marry Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus, rumors could have followed. Even in His adulthood Jesus may have been accused (falsely) of being born out of wedlock (John 8:41). But most of all, Jesus faced the rejection of God Himself—His Father—when He took on the sin of the world (Matthew 27:45-46). The emotional trauma that comes with divorce—whether gossip and rumor or the deeper, inner betrayal from family members themselves—is something Jesus knows all about. He is present with those who have experienced this pain.
Divorce is the product of sin. It is not God’s design and is not the automatic outcome of marriage, particularly a God-centric one. There is hope for a wonderful marriage even in a world tainted by sin, but it requires us to depend on God and follow His design for relationships. Good marriages are based on the same sacrificial love God showed when Jesus died on the cross (Ephesians 5:25-26). It’s not easy or always comfortable, but it is the kind of love that commits. It’s the kind of love that stands by the covenant made in wedding vows, just as God stands by His covenant of salvation to us.
When we find our identity in Christ, we are able to enter marriage with the strength and wisdom required to maintain such a lasting commitment. When we get approval from God, we can give of ourselves even when He is the only one who sees. And if we seek, date and marry the kind of person who loves God as much as he loves us, we can enter marriage with the spiritual unity on which a lasting marriage is built.
Spiritual unity leads to marital peace. Because God IS love, in order to love one another in a lasting way, we must know Him and His definition of what love is. When we found our hearts, and therefore our relationships, on His truth and wisdom, marriage can be a beautiful testimony to God’s redeeming power.
Divorce may have been your parents’ story, but it does not have to be yours. There is hope for a beautiful relationship with a husband who loves you with the love of Christ. There is hope for a redeeming love because our God is a saving God. This doesn’t mean marriage is easy; it still takes intention, time, patience, unconditional respect and love. But divorce will not be the outcome when two people dedicated to God and His design work together, love intentionally and commit to simply stay—for better or for worse.